Australia's Department of Defence denies that it has had talks with Tigerair Australia on using Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Richmond for commercial flights.

"Defence is not in discussions with Tigerair or any other commercial airline about using RAAF Base Richmond for non-defence flying operations," a spokesman for the department tells Flightglobal Pro.

Recent media reports in Australia have suggested that the low-cost carrier has been in high-level talks about operating flights from Richmond, located northwest of Sydney's central business district, in addition to its existing services from Sydney airport.

Canberra has suggested that Richmond could, in future, be opened to a limited number of domestic commercial flights. However, that would require an investment of A$144 million ($131 million) to build modest facilities capable of handling up to 1 million passengers annually.

Other carriers are understood to have previously sounded out Canberra on the possibility of opening up Richmond to commercial flights, in part to alleviate growing congestion at Sydney airport.

Over the last decade, the RAAF has reduced the number of squadrons based at Richmond, although it is a key logistics base for supporting army units based at barracks around Sydney.

Richmond has a single 2,130m (6,990ft) runway that is capable of handling Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s. However, it has sufficient land available to build a second runway should this be required over the longer term.

Tigerair has not denied pursuing Richmond as an option, but says that it is reviewing its strategy in light of Virgin Australia recently taking a 60% stake in it. That acquisition closed in early July following a protracted approvals process.

Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets database shows that Tigerair Australia operates a fleet of 11 A320s.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news